Even those who played deep into the U.S. Open and are still in the Roland Garros field know that there will be tough days ahead.
“At one point I’m going to get super tired,” said Dominic Thiem, the U.S. Open champion, who won his second-round match against Jack Sock Wednesday in straight sets. “I guess all the tension and focus on Roland Garros, it’s hiding still, the tiredness and everything. I hope I can push it as far as I can.”
Looming fatigue is rarely top of mind for a high-ranked player during the first week of a Grand Slam. But there is a rhythm to the usual tennis calendar that generally allows players to peak during the biggest tournaments.
The tennis year begins on hardcourts in Australia in January. In late winter and early spring, it swings to California and Florida for two more large hardcourt championships. Then it moves to Europe for the clay court season in April, culminating with the French Open, which finishes in early June. A month of play on grass follows, with Wimbledon, in London, wrapping up by mid-July. Then it’s back to hard courts in the United States for the rest of the summer, which ends with the U.S. Open in New York, and there are tournaments after that in Asia and Europe, many of them indoors, before the season finishes in November.
In other words, plenty of time zone adjustments and opportunities for rest. Not this year. One week, the world’s top players were navigating the hard and fast courts of the U.S. Open. Days later, they were slogging through clay court tournaments in Italy and Germany to tune up for Roland Garros.
“Definitely was a super tough turnaround,” said Taylor Fritz, who lost in the third round at the U.S. Open, and has now won twice in Paris.
In a normal year, Fritz said he trains on clay for three weeks before playing tournaments. This year, adapting became necessary in competition as he lost first-round matches in Rome and Hamburg, Germany. “I’m just now this week finding my game,” he said.